My Social Media Relationship? It’s Complicated.
My social media relationship is indeed complicated. Much of the time, I can only shake my head, wonder why I remain in this abusive relationship and yet, and yet. It’s complicated.
Consider if you will for one brief shining moment when the world was new, and we all trusted the web. Yes, it was brief. And yes, it was shining. And yes, it had potential beyond belief.
Are we done reminiscing now?
Consider If You Will
All major social media systems now track you around the Net 24/7. For example, even after you leave Facebook, it tracks where you go, what you do, who you talk to and reports all this back to its main servers to be sliced and diced and served up to advertisers.
Don’t be outraged. So does Google and every other free service out there.
Why do you think Google gives you free email? It’s not out of the goodness of its heart.
Here’s the rule of thumb – if it’s online and free, you’re the product.
I Mess About With This Stuff
I understand the future is, once again, walled gardens. The dream of a free and open Net has had a stake driven through its heart and moated castles are our future.
Not much I, as an individual writer, can do about this. It is what it is.
The question is what I’m doing to adapt to it.
I Run More Tests
Ah yes, when in doubt, try stuff. See what works. Throw a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what sticks out there. And here are my thoughts and general observations.
What I’ve Learned.
Not all social media for writer systems are created equally. The only one that has any potential for me as a garden writer is Facebook (and you have no idea how hard it is for me to type and admit those words) and Pinterest. Twitter, Google+, Tumblr etc do not create the same response rates. Not even close. I don’t play in their sandboxes any more. Any content on them is uploaded automatically via Buffer.
This 900 pound, avaricious gorilla is king of the heap. No surprise there. And it’s well in the lead for creating the highest wall with the deepest moat. Having somewhere north of 1.5 Billion users (even if a portion of them are fake) lends it some credence in the advertising world. That’s why it’s turning itself into
- a) a mobile news platform sucking in the output from major news sources and online publishers by threatening to downgrade their links,
- b) a mobile communications platform – why else buy Snapchat,
- c) a social media graph for advertising sale,
- d) a serious competitor to Youtube for video viewing and
- e) a gaming platform (Oculus Rift anyone?) and
- f) whatever else (banking etc) it can set up and run.
If I may digress for a moment, this reminds me sooo much of the old AOL. End of digression.
For example, this means if I want my videos to be seen on Facebook, I’ll have to upload directly to Facebook. If I upload to Youtube and post a link to FB, they’ll be downgraded and won’t be seen by as many readers. And yes, I’ve have and continue to mess with this to see how much of a “discount” a Youtube link gets.
The downside to this is I don’t get paid for my Facebook videos but I get paid – via advertising – for my Youtube videos.
I made two versions of the end of my last video – a Facebook version and a Youtube version. I’m testing how much of a boost I might get from a native video via shares and likes on both systems.
I have to confess I don’t spend a lot of time on Pinterest. Heck, I don’t spend much/any time there. My better half pins things for me and her sense of the female aesthetic has created a 40,000 strong follower stat. Now and then an image from my site goes viral and away we go on another joyous ride of traffic and pins.
My guess is this is something that works for the non-fiction creative but I’ve yet to think about how it can work for the fiction writer. I’ll get back to you in another year once the fiction stuff unrolls. I have ideas about this and am slowly, ever so slowly working out the production kinks on that and doing testing.
I have several “pin” systems to allow site visitors to pin content and this is a must-have for any website now. The easiest system is sumome. (If you put your mouse over the graphic below, you’ll see it spring into action.)
My Sole Social Media Objective.
I had to do some serious thinking about this and this is my current thinking (and yeah, like all things on the Net it’s subject to change).
The main reason I do social media is to encourage people to sign up for my newsletter.
A second reason is to support in some small way the folks who follow me there – to “enhance” what I do on the website.
That’s it. Period. Do not pass go.
Does this mean I won’t advertise some of my ebooks or other products on Facebook? The definite guide on that is I very likely will run tests to see how effective Facebook advertising will be. But that has to be for some very specific products and not something as general as an ebook on Amazon. (There are way too many variables out of my control between a link on Facebook to a sale on Amazon.) But if I were selling something on one of my sites, I would evaluate FB advertising and my site.
And Why Is This My Sole Objective You Ask?
The newsletter is – in marketing-speak – the next stage of the marketing funnel. And if you’re in the creative business, if you want to be, or dream of being, the very first thing you want to do after starting your website is to set up newsletter to talk directly to visitors. How to do that and what to put in it is a subject for another day but a newsletter is your second marketing step after the website.
Being able to talk to readers – being able to share links, videos and any content that may help them without having to go through the filters of the big dawgs now has to be goal of any creative person.
Almost The The Bottom Line
The role of social media for the creative person is to enhance the relationship with readers but not to replace one’s own site. I now use Facebook in this way and I’m comfortable with this.
The focus on my reader-interaction, answering gardening questions for example, will take place on websites I control rather than on Facebook or any other social media site.
The Bottom Line
I have to accept the real life data here and that is that Facebook and Google are 900 pound gorillas and I’m flea on their backs. Sigh. My job isn’t to change that but rather to figure out a way to live with that. One example is that my commenting system for my gardening sites is a Facebook one – I’ve tied my gardening sites to Facebook so Google can track and give my gardening sites some value in their social media graph. Facebook also takes data from them and that’s fine too.
You have to work with the big dawgs. And you have to be able to skip out of their way when they bare their fangs. 🙂
And that my friends, how I plan on doing some more skipping is coming soon.